By: Martin Walshaw, SE Team Lead - Sub-Saharan Africa
Trading data is the new value exchange. Consumers are getting smarter at engaging in the interconnected world and where their data is shared. Yet, the rapid rise in cybercrime is fuelled by cybercriminals maliciously trying to exploit this data to sell for profit on the black market. Apps are the gateway to vital information, so maintaining user identity is more important than ever. With changing attitudes towards cybersecurity and brand reputations at stake, many business leaders need to ask themselves an important question: Do customers today trust you to protect their data and will that brand loyalty remain in the future?
Data is the new value asset
A single hack can set reputations back as the magnitude of a cyber breach can result in severe losses to revenues. In recent times, large scale cyber-attacks have affected companies of all sizes across retail, banking, manufacturing, media and many other industries. Firms can no longer rely on traditional IT infrastructure because technological innovation and malicious hackers are exposing weaknesses in the system through sophisticated techniques, including malware and encryption. Companies need to rethink their security strategy and plan longer-term to safeguard customer loyalty.
Although innovative technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), has delivered tremendous progress, data breaches to inadequately protected devices and networks can quickly erode consumer confidence, which could take extensive resources to regain. A recent European report conducted by Opinium interviewed six thousand consumers covering the UK, Germany and France. The report revealed interesting findings, including two out of five people in the UK would not purchase smart technology for their home over hacking fears. The survey interviewed British citizens who expressed growing concerns over apps collecting their data and the platforms hackers are targeting today. In addition, almost half were most wary about leading social media sites collecting their data, whilst 58% believe it is the app that hackers will exploit to target them as consumers.
Attitudes towards being cyber-safe are changing rapidly. The Opinium survey also revealed that 74% of Brits now check their security measures when downloading apps, 88% check the security of banking apps and 90% with shopping apps, especially with concerns related to credit card fraud. As consumers become more discerning and vigilant about protecting their credentials, the demands on businesses will increase to prove that their service is robust, compliant and safe. It is quite conceivable that consumers will soon in the future differentiate brands based on their ability to protect data and whether they have the necessary security controls in place. The Opinium survey highlighted that over four fifths (82%) of German adults say they would be concerned about their financial data being hacked with half (51%) worried about their passport being hacked. In comparison, over four fifths (83%) of French adults say they would be concerned about their financial data being hacked with half (52%) worried about their National Insurance Number being hacked.
A company’s reputation will only survive and thrive if it understands consumer behaviour and implements a comprehensive security architecture to meet demands and safeguard sensitive information. Understanding risk, accessing, storing, processing, analysing, protecting and appropriately deleting customer data are mandatory for data compliance and demonstrating a strong security posture. It is essential for businesses to have the flexibility to quickly adapt to evolving trends, support new apps, accommodate a growing mobile community and maximise operational efficiency. In fact, studies have shown that the emotional state of users to network delays and data breaches for even very minor hiccups can cause stress and dissatisfaction. Looking ahead, consumers will know their data has intrinsic value and, as responsible cyber citizens, become more discerning about selecting services.
In the future, data protection and identity preservation will be at the heart of people’s choices when purchasing goods on-line, selecting a banking investment and even sharing credentials with local authorities. The digital economy is driving increased reliance on application services and forward thinking companies are implementing integrated security ecosystems to mitigate cyberattacks and fraud. A failure to scale the security architecture, safeguard and successfully manage customer credentials will be detrimental to a brand’s reputation.
Now ask yourself another question considering digital economic trends: Does my business have the right applications security solutions, which can keep customers happy? Remember, the way organisations deal with data will be a commercial differentiator for consumers. Now is the time to secure the trust.